Bird Families

Black-winged Fire Velvet Weaver / Euplectes hordeaceus


In May, the reeds, bordering the reservoirs of West Africa, bloom with red-orange pom-poms - the time has come for courtship with the fiery velvet weavers.

Up to two years old male weaver pretends to be a "sparrow". Light gray, striped brown on the back. No fire, no velvet. However, he has in his wardrobe not only a robe for everyday tasks, but also a ceremonial uniform, hidden until the time of the females' sulking.

In the mating season, nondescript the suit is replaced by an elegant black tuxedo, over which a flaming cape with a hood is thrown over. The black mask is bordered by protruding bright orange feathers, the breast is glossy with black gloss. Where has all the dullness and inconspicuousness gone? In front of the female dandy, striking her with the brightness of contrasts.

They meet the male by his clothes, but it is only to attract attention. The main thing is real estate. As an experienced realtor, the cavalier jumps around the applicant, and in his bird's tongue whistles into her ears about the advantages of settling in this particular area, in the nest of its construction.

You can only persuade several girlfriends. Some do not like the male himself, some the reed thickets are not thick enough, and some are not satisfied with the number of neighbors.

Average, even the most beautiful and eloquent male rarely has more than three or four females on his territory. It's not even a matter of competition for food, but rather of the density of young stock per unit of thickets. The more nests are nearby, the more of them a predator can destroy at one time.

Therefore, females, finding a territory too densely populated, they can exchange even the most luxurious nest builder for a more modest gentleman, but with vacant places in the harem.

Sitting in their ball houses , females lay up to five delicately turquoise eggs. Hatching has to be done alone and feeding chicks too. Each stage takes only a couple of weeks. With such early maturity, fire weavers rise two broods per wing in one summer.

Mostly a parent drags the larvae of ants or small insects to chicks. In places developed for agricultural land, this could be called a benefit, if not for the preferences of adult birds - they love seeds. Cereals.

The young that flew out, gathers in large flocks and sets off to enclose grain fields. Later, the young are joined by birds that have given their annual duty to the continuation of the genus.

And there are no bright lights among them - adult males molted again, changed into work overalls. There are only "sparrows" in the flock. Visit our website

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Fire weaver (Euplectes franciscanus)

Message Gularis ¬ĽApr 30, 2015 10:01 pm

Fireweaver (Euplectes franciscanus)

At the time of breeding, the male fire weaver is colored extremely effectively. The forehead, crown, cheeks, sides of the body and abdomen are coal-black. The entire neck, chest, uppertail and undertail are of a bright orange-red color. The back is reddish brown. The wings are brown. Feathers on them have light edges. The beak is black. In non-breeding time, the male has a modest female coloration: the upper side of the body is dark brown with dark streaks, and the lower side is whitish, with a slight brownish tint on the chest and sides. Above the eyes, there are wide light stripes - the so-called eyebrows. Horn-colored beak and legs. The length of the bird is 11.5-12 centimeters.
Two subspecies of the fire weaver are known, the representatives of which differ mainly in the size of the body. One of the subspecies inhabits a vast territory stretching from the western, Atlantic, coast of Africa along the latitudes of Senegal and northern regions of Cameroon to the east to the Darfur plateau in Sudan, and also meridionally along the Nile Valley to the south to Uganda. Another subspecies, representatives of which are distinguished by a smaller body size, is common in Somalia and Ethiopia.

The fire weaver has been known to Western European lovers since the beginning of the 19th century. During the period of getting used to captivity, these birds must certainly be in a warm room. At this time, it is recommended to keep them in a spacious cage or small aviary, and several individuals together. Usually, females are more difficult than males to adapt to new living conditions and often die in the very first weeks after being caught. But the birds that have safely overcome this critical period live almost always for a long time: up to ten and sometimes even up to sixteen years.
The more varied the feed for the weavers, the better. In addition to a mixture of different varieties of small and large millet with the addition of canary seed, these weavers are given soft food made up of grated carrots, crushed rusks and a hard-boiled chicken egg (preferably with the addition of ant pupae). Birds should be given, in addition, a lot of flour crustaceans larvae, greens, semi-ripe seeds of cereals and weeds.

It is useful to mix fresh bee honey into drinking water. With insufficient adequate feeding and lack of direct sunlight, the weaver's bright, fiery color fades over time, becoming faded, yellowish.
Living in good conditions, these birds can reproduce successfully. Due to the fact that they are polygamous, it is recommended to keep only one male with two or three females in a large separate cage or in an aviary. As a rule, the male builds the nests. Often he tries to do this, even without having a suitable place to build, and therefore simply braids the lattice or rods of the cage with grass blades. In the presence of dense branches, the weaver makes a nest on them, but sometimes uses an artificial nest - a basket or a half-open house, as well as other people's nests, while throwing out the clutch of the owners of the nest from there. Usually, the male builds several nests, and the females, at their own discretion, choose from them those that they like best. There are 2-3 blue eggs in a clutch. Only the female incubates them. Chicks hatch after 13-14 days. They fly out of the nest at the age of 14-18 days. After that, for at least three more weeks, the parents continue to feed the chicks. At the Leningrad amateur Yu. R. Shveikovsky's, a female fire weaver laid eggs in a wicker basket with a side hole, attached to the cage wall almost under its very ceiling and lined with dry grass. Unfortunately, the bird incubated so poorly that the eggs had to be transferred to the nest of the Japanese finch. Fireweaver chicks hatched, but the finches did not feed them. The same thing happened with the second brood, although this time two pairs of Japanese finches were tried at once, before that they perfectly fed chicks of various species of finch weavers, even in large mixed broods. However, even these "honored" nurses killed the fire weaver's chicks. This happened for the reason that the finches could not adapt to the peculiarities of the food reaction of the chicks of this species, which were completely different from that of the finches. However, on the third time, the female fire weaver, at last, herself safely hatched and reared two chicks.

Fireweaver chicks are naked, with only a few barely noticeable downs on the crown and back. On their wings, a dark longitudinal strip of pigmented skin was noticeable. Begging for food, the chicks pulled up slightly trembling heads on long thin necks and even raised themselves well on widely spaced legs. The mother fed everyone, bending towards him from the entrance and not entering the nest, and only then she just jumped inside and sat on the chicks to warm them. Every 10-15 minutes the female flew to the feeding troughs and greedily grabbed ant pupae, larvae and pupae of flour beetle, a hard-boiled chicken egg with crackers, sprouted millet, bloodworms. She did not let the male into the nest - she pecked him right on the cheeks when he tried to look there. All the time while the chicks were in the nest, the female regularly took out their droppings, throwing it at the other end of the cage.

The chicks left the nest after 14 days. At first, they stayed at the bottom of the cage, and two days later they began to quite confidently flip from perch to perch, without fear they sat on the finger put by a man. It is interesting that the female during the entire breeding period was completely calm about the presence of people. The mother fed the flying chicks no longer with belching, as in the nest, but with whole larvae of flour beetle, though previously killed, by bloodworms and refined millet grain. If the chick did not open his mouth in time, she hurried him, poking her beak into the corners of his mouth. 8-9 days after the chicks left the nest, their first attempts to feed on their own could be observed. The female behaved in an interesting way, already laying new eggs in the nest at that time. Seeing that one of the chicks, taking the larva of flour crush, clumsily holds it across the body and tries in vain to swallow the prey, she flew up to him, snatched the "worm" and deftly thrust it into the baby's beak as it should, that is, with the head end forward. But even then the mother was in no hurry to fly away. She waited for the chick to swallow its food, strictly following the protruding feathers on its neck as this large prey slid down the esophagus. In the first days of incubation of new clutches, the female still continued to feed the chicks, but soon she was replaced by the male, who brought the matter to the end.
This pair of weavers nestled in a cage measuring 120x50x70 centimeters.

1. Distribution

Fire velvet weavers live in colonies and are found in South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Mozambique. However, they nest exclusively on the territory of a large dry lake in the Etosha National Park. Their habitat is open areas and wide savannas, where they are usually found near water.

2. Reproduction

During the mating period, males of the fire velvet weaver are covered with elegant plumage. It turns bright orange or scarlet, with the exception of the front of the head and abdomen, which turn black. The wings and tail remain brown. The mating singing of males sounds like a very high squeak, which they emit while sitting on tall blades of grass, ruffling from time to time. Sometimes they take off and slowly hover above the ground.

Fire velvet weavers build their nests in thickets of reeds, tall grass and coastal vegetation, as well as in fields of corn and sugar cane. The nests have a side entrance. Females lay three to five eggs. The males leave the incubation of eggs and the protection of the hatched chicks to the females. After two weeks of incubation, chicks are born, which leave the nest after another two weeks.

Number of species in "sister" taxa

viewWeaver velvet fire black-wingedEuplectes hordeaceusLinnaeus1758
genusVelvet weaverEuplectesSwainson1829
suborder / suborderSingersOscines
detachment / orderPasserinesPasseriformes
superorder / superorderNew Sky Birds (Typical Birds)NeognathaePycroft1900
infraclassReal birds (Fan-tailed birds)NeornithesGadow1893
subclassCilegus birds (Fantail birds)Carinatae Ornithurae (Neornithes) Ornithurae (Neornithes)Merrem1813
subtype / subdivisionVertebrates (Cranial)Vertebrata (Craniata)Cuvier1800
type / departmentChordatesChordata
supertypeCoelomic animalsCoelomata
sectionBilaterally symmetrical (Three-layer)Bilateria (Triploblastica)
subkingdomMulticellular animalsMetazoa

Interspecific bird conflicts are explained by competition and hybridization

Many animals jealously guard their territory from the invasion of strangers. This is logical when it comes to a representative of its own species. However, an individual belonging to a different species often becomes the object of attack. For a long time it was believed that such interspecific territoriality was just a by-product of intraspecific. In other words, the owner attacks the stranger by mistake, mistaking him for a relative.

However, new evidence suggests that protecting an area from other species is adaptive. It can arise and persist when different species compete for a particular resource, such as food or shelter.

A team of zoologists led by Jonathan P. Drury of the University of Durham conducted a massive study of interspecies competition for territory using the example of North American passerines. After analyzing the literature, scientists found that this behavior is typical for 104 of their species. This is 32.3 percent of the total number of passerine species in North America. Thus, interspecies competition is more widespread than previously thought.

According to the authors, in most cases, birds come into conflict over territory with a representative of one specific species. There are several factors that increase the chances of forming a pair of competing species. For example, birds that live in the same biotope, have similar sizes and nest in hollows are more likely to be involved in conflicts over territory. For species belonging to the same family, another factor plays an important role - the probability of hybridization. If two species are capable of interbreeding with each other, their males are likely to react aggressively to each other.

Based on the data obtained, the researchers concluded that interspecific conflicts for territory among birds do not arise by mistake. This behavior is an adaptive response to competition for a limited resource, as well as a mechanism to prevent hybridization between closely related species.